Supporting Elements in a Story?

The puzzle is a classic "river crossing" problem, but with a few added twists.Sid Sivakumar's puzzle is a classic "river crossing" problem with a few added twists.

Supporting Elements in a Story?

SUNDAY PUZZLE - Yeow! This grid is an excellent example of a Saturday themeless puzzle that does not allow for 'cheating,' such as sneaking in online search results. Google will help with a few trivial facts, but the majority of clues are up to you and your word-loving brain. The wordplay can be subtle and use secondary or tertiary meanings. However, anything that causes me to lose my cruciverbal equilibrium for a moment is given the wordplay label.

It is Sid Sivakumar’s 14th crossword for The Times, and his 8th Saturday grid. This puzzle has eight debut entries out of 60 words, making it his lowest word count yet.

Tricky Clues

When I started this puzzle, I had very little information to work with. I only knew that the ISLEY Brothers were "winners" of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014 (or 'Blues', which didn't sound quite right). This jogged me to remember AVONLEA as the 'Anne of Green Gables setting'. I pieced together the northwest section from there.

In the same corner, you'll find this interesting fact. The "Soft drink that initially contained the mood stabilizing drug lithium citrate" is SEVEN UP, originally known as Bib-Label Lemon-Lime Lithiated Soda.

The TSA is the agency that checks your luggage for snowboards and bread machines.

This clue requires an open mind to plot twists and makes for another good academic inside joke. In this puzzle, 'Campus Protection' is TENURE.

I completed my solution in this area. I made some mistakes and mangled the northeast corner. I knew the answer to 'Supporting Elements in a Story?' was yes. This wouldn't be plotlines but I had some incorrect cross letters which made it extra difficult. "Don't hurry it" became DON’T RUSH me at 18A. However, I still had "solar tide" instead of SOLAR TIME, at 30A. This gave me "steel beads," which, after a second thought, doesn't really make any sense. It's obviously STEEL BEAMS.

This is an excellent debut clue that led me in all directions but the correct one. The 'Dirty Film' in question represents natural stagnation.

I thought that this "Figure in Greek tragedy" who said, "I ask one thing: let me go insane in my own manner'' was Oedipus. This line comes from Sophocles but is attributed to ELECTRA. She has the same number of letters as Oedipus and a similar character arc.

Constructor Notes

This grid is from mid-2020 when I started playing with themeless ultralow word count puzzles. (I had unexpectedly a lot of time to myself). I have tried many 60-word puzzles, but none of them are as colorful and clean as this grid. I'm pretty happy to have found it.

This technique is called'spot-seeding'. This is a technique I'm sure not the first to use, but it's something I've never heard of before. So I thought I'd give it a title. Themeless puzzles tend to be built around one or two pre-selected "seed" answers. Crossword solvers, editors and other puzzlers are looking for at least some outstanding marquee answer in a themeless. By ignoring this advice, you can'spot-seed' a grid by building it around strategically placed words, rather than full phrases. Here I seeded the grid with the R from COAL MINER and the Y from CANDY BARS, as well as the first S for ART SCENES. These are all terminal letters that will be helpful in the intersection of Downs. You're done!

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